Author Archives: RedInkRanch

Randy’s Writings

witte_The-History-of-Western-Horseman-Witte-Randy-9780762777532Randy really treasured his time working for the Western Horseman magazine.  If you are interested in the history, consider ordering a copy.

ORDER YOUR COPY TODAY!  randy and marsha witte at aol.com

Western Horseman: Yesterday and Today

By Randy Witte

Western Horseman magazine began in 1936, which makes it one of the oldest horse magazines in the world. To glance back at the magazine’s history is to survey much of the history of the horse industry in North America, because Western Horseman was there to champion the formation of breed associations and registries, research and record horse history, and publish accounts of the care, breeding, and use of horses through the decades.

When the first issue was printed and distributed in January 1936, interest in horses was waning in the United States. Founding Editor and Publisher Paul Albert knew it all too well as he watched horses being displaced by automobiles and tractors, and promptly dispatched to the slaughterhouses.

Paul later wrote of that era: “Horses were worth practically nothing and thousands were being slaughtered each year for dog food, the dog having replaced the horse in public affection and the machine having discarded the horse in transportation and power.” He created The Western Horseman as a voice for the horse, to show people that horses were still useful in a variety of ways on farms and ranches, and that they could have a bright future as recreational animals. The magazine’s motto was, “For the Admirer of the Western Stock Horse.”

Paul, his wife, Worth, and a secretary and friend named Dorothy Smith made up the magazine staff. They worked “within the lighted circle of the kerosene lamp,” Worth later wrote, in the Albert’s’ ranch house. Their ranch was located in the rolling hills near Lafayette, Calif., about 20 miles from San Francisco. There Paul and Worth ran a small herd of cattle, bred Arabian horses and did their best to keep western riding alive. They operated a “one-day dude ranch” on weekends, hosting visitors who paid 75 cents for an hour’s horseback ride.

By the time that first issue of The Western Horseman appeared, Paul had quit his job as a traveling salesman for heavy equipment to devote full time to the ranch and to publishing the magazine. Worth recalled that “finances were nil. But with the idea and a stubborn determination, scraping here and pinching there, we finally managed $200 to edit and print our first issue.”

That first issue of the magazine sold for 30 cents per copy, with subscriptions listed at $1 per year. Included was news on horse shows and rodeos, technical advice, and the first in a series of well-researched articles written by Paul and titled “The Romance of the American Stock Horse.”

Bob Denhardt was an early contributor to the magazine, and served years later as its editor, after he had been instrumental in the formation of the American Quarter Horse Association. He was a student at the University of California at Berkeley when The Western Horseman was launched, and came to the Albert’s’ ranch looking for a place to ride.

In the January 1937 issue, author F.D. Haines wrote about the remnants of a breed of horse called the Palouse, a name which some had corrupted into Appaloosa, he explained. There weren’t many Appaloosas left, he wrote, and urged those who had them to “register and establish the type before it is too late.” The Appaloosa Horse Club was organized in 1938.

Paul wrote an editorial in that same 1937 issue urging preservation of the Western horse. Remember, this was prior to the formation of the American Quarter Horse Association (in 1940), and even the name Quarter Horse was not affixed to a particular type of horse.

“A West without cow horses would be a disappointment to everyone,” he wrote. “It would pay us to well consider this thought. Some (people) stand calmly by, never lifting a hand to save our gallant friend and greatest attraction, the Western horse. The pages of The Western Horseman are dedicated to this work. It is a good work and an unselfish one.”

In the fifth anniversary issue, Paul noted that with the aid of publicity from The Western Horseman, four new horse organizations had formed: the Palomino Horse Association, the Appaloosa Horse Club, the Albino Horse Club and the American Quarter Horse Association.

Paul was only 40 when he died of cancer, and his magazine was only seven, but he lived long enough to see his efforts on behalf of the Western horse begin to pay off. W.K. Albert replaced P.T. Albert on the masthead of the January-February 1943 issue, and Worth remained editor for the next four issues of the magazine.

The Western Horseman was sold to John Ben Snow in the summer of 1943, and moved to the Speidel headquarters in Reno, Nevada. This came about because John Ben was an avid horseman throughout his life, and a top executive at Speidel, a chain of newspapers spanning the country. The Speidel staff put the magazine out until John Ben decided to move it to Colorado Springs in 1948. He lived in town, had a horse and cattle ranch north of the Springs, and felt he could best take the magazine under his wing and help it grow if it was close by. He arranged for construction of the magazine’s office on the north side of town in 1949. The two-story structure is patterned after the well-known Palace of the Governors in the old town square in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and is a familiar Colorado Springs edifice in its own right.

The magazine has continued to grow and evolve through the years. The Western Horseman became simply Western Horseman in later years. Logo type, layout and design also have changed whenever the staff felt there was a reason for it, and circulation has expanded to nearly 200,000 subscribers and newsstand buyers. What hasn’t changed through the years, however, is the magazine’s philosophy. Through 12 editors and four changes in ownership, Western Horseman has remained dedicated to horses and the people who use them, primarily in the West.

After John Ben Snow’s death in 1973 at age 89, the magazine became employee-owned, and stayed that way until 2001, when the Western Horseman board of directors and employees voted unanimously to sell to Morris Communications.

Morris owns several newspapers throughout the country, as did Speidel (which later was acquired by Gannett). But Morris also has a variety of magazines, including a handful of horse publications. The Western Horseman staff felt that Morris Communications, headed by W.S. “Billy” Morris III, a dedicated horseman himself, was an ideal company to carry on the philosophy and tradition of Western Horseman in the 21st century.

Western Horseman has been the leader in its category through the years partly because the people who have worked for the magazine also have been involved in the horse industry, with interests ranging from horse shows and rodeo, ranching, trail riding, polo and cutting. No other horse publication carries such a wide variety of topics, which include equine health care, training, breeding, competition, packing and trail riding, ranching, horse and human personality features and historical articles.
Western Horseman has stayed true to its roots, and readers of the publication in 1936 – those who are still with us, typically feel “at home” with the magazine today. Contemporary readers who run across those early issues find them fascinating.

http://www.westernhorseman.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1&Itemid=6

Natural Longhorn Beef

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Rangers Gun Wins at Denver National

Texas Longhorns at the National Western Stock Show

 By Randy Witte

Stan Searle rides point while leading his cows down through Denver’s financial district

Denver’s big winter event, the 108th annual National Western Stock Show, ran January 11-26, featuring some 70 livestock breed shows including the Texas Longhorn show. For the eighth straight year, the stock show was kicked off with a Longhorn cattle drive along downtown Denver’s 17th street, and the crowd was bigger than ever.

Stan Searle of Monument, Colo., provides the cattle. Ranch foreman Gary Lake of Ellicott, Colo., provides the cowboys, and Denverites crowd along both sides of the street to cheer as they watch a bit of the Old West come alive. Gary said the crowd was the biggest yet-“at least 35,000 people watched it this year,” he said. 
The good-looking Searle cows enthralled an estimated 35,000 spectators during the National Western Stock Show parade in Denver last month.

Stan always rides point, and visits with by-standers, reporters and photographers as the herd travels through normally busy intersections, passes over steamy grates in the street, and parades past the venerable Brown Palace Hotel.

Longhorns returned to the stock show grounds for five days, which included a two-day show that created a bit of history in that the show was sanctioned for the first time by both national associations-the International Texas Longhorn Association and the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America.

Seventy-three head of cattle were entered in the show, which was produced by the regional affiliates of both national associations, the Mountain States Texas Longhorn Association (ITLA) and the Mountains and Plains Texas Longhorn Association (TLBAA).

The two affiliates pooled their efforts for the first time a year ago, when Mountains and Plains invited Mountain States to help hold an open show at Denver’s National Western, and then worked together to have the 2014 show sanctioned by both ITLA and TLBAA.

Since then, a lot of these regional Longhorn breeders have become members of both affiliates and both national associations. 

So, for the first time in the National Western show’s history, cattle could be registered in one or both associations, with show points counting toward qualification in championship / world shows of both ITLA and TLBAA respectively. Cattle were shown and judged in classes together, and exhibitors had the option of having points tabulated for their cattle in one or both associations.

Another first for the show this year came in the form of beautiful trophy belt buckles for top winners, in addition to the ribbons, banners and $5,370 in premiums.

There was also a  youth/pee wee show, and Barb Fillmore of Elbert, Colo. (left, rear) assisted her grandson, Brody Weston, daughter Ashley Fillmore, and grand-daughter Savanah Weston, as they led their cattle around the arena.

Lana Hightower of Van, Tex., judged the show, and she was well suited for this role. She and her husband, Dr. Gene Hightower, have produced 13 TLBAA world champions, one reserve grand champion and one grand champion. She has judged Texas Longhorn shows throughout the country, including the ITLA Championship Show and the TLBAA World Show trophy steer division. Lana is also currently serving as a TLBAA director. 

Jim Civis of Lamar, Colo., served as announcer. He and his wife, Betty, have been longtime Longhorn breeders, although they are sitting out of the breeding business these days because of the prolonged drought in their part of the state. Jim was ably assisted with his announcing duties by John Nelson of Wellington, Colo., who with his wife, Darlene, also produced a slick, colorful program for the show. 

Lana Pearson of Fowler, Colo., for years has been the “go to” person at the Denver show, and again she was the “first to arrive and last to leave” during the five days the cattle were exhibited in the historic Denver stockyards. The show itself included a haltered and non-haltered division that spanned two days. The rest of the time allowed cattle to be viewed in pens by stock show visitors. Questions were asked and answered, and a hospitality tent was set up adjacent to the pens, offering hot drinks and snacks to visitors. A special “tent party” was held for exhibitors following the Friday show. 

Gary Lake served as ring steward for the halter show, and then ramrodded the cattle movements from pen to pen during the un-haltered show.  Kenny Richardson of Greeley, Colo.,  assumed ring steward  duties for the un-haltered show. Kenny is also current president of Mountains and Plains, and made a point of inviting “everyone from ITLA” to the Mountains and Plains annual banquet Saturday night. 

The National Western Texas Longhorn Show Committee, which consists of equal representation from both affiliates, cordially invites one and all to enter the 2015 show.  Entries are due in November – watch for details later.